Eric Gamalinda’s ‘Splendor’ explores New York’s sacred places

‘I consider myself a seeker of balance, harmony, wisdom, love.’ Photo: Black Lawrence Press

Poet Eric Gamalinda’s multi-venue work, “Deep Splendor,” brings an 8th Century Buddhist text into the age of mobile devices, the Internet and social media.

The work has been chosen as part of the Asian American Arts Alliance’s “Locating the Sacred Festival,” which launches in September with music, dance, visual, and literary arts from the Bronx to Staten Island.

The Space Within, a visual arts exhibition at Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Education Center at 107 Suffolk Street, features the work of Gamalinda, Jennie Chien, Ranjit Bhatnagar and David Chang—four artists exploring the blurring of lines between the fleeting and the permanent, the transient and the immovable, as expressed in their search for the sacred within.

The 25-event, 12-day festival—which takes place in all five New York boroughs from September 12 to 23 is a vibrant collaboration between artists of all disciplines with traditionally and non-traditionally sacred spaces all across the city, exploring together the meaning of the word “sacred” and its relevance in their communities.

The festival opens on September 12 at 8 p.m. at the Church of the Ascension in Greenwich Village with an innovative program of transcendental music bringing together new music artist Bora Yoon with the South Asian Sufi devotional musicians of Riyaaz Qawwali.

The QRoems exhibit

Gamalinda’s work is titled “Splendor: The Way of the Bodhisattva,” and is an interactive, multi-venue exhibit of “QRoems” (pronounced “chromes”), a combination poem and QR code. A marriage of poetry, visual art, and social media, “Deep Splendor” presents 10 QRoems at different locations in the city. Starting from a central exhibit at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, “Deep Splendor” invites the viewer on a journey based on the 10 chapters of The Way of the Bodhisattva, the 8th Century Buddhist text on how to live in harmony with the world. The exhibit uses the typically commercial format of the QR code to serve art and to spread a humanizing message. Viewers are encouraged to share the QRoems through their mobile phones, and maps in each venue point them to the other locations of the exhibit.

“As an artist, I consider myself a seeker—of balance, harmony, wisdom, love,” says Gamalinda in a statement. “The seeking is the hard part, and art is a source of solace, a way of getting there. This festival has put me in touch with so many kindred spirits, and I feel especially blessed.”

Gamalinda’s work includes poetry, fiction, non-fiction, plays, visual art and experimental film, and he explores ways to merge these disciplines into new and unique art forms. He has won the Asian American Literary Award for his book of poems, Zero Gravity; other awards include the Man Asian Prize shortlist, the Cultural Center of the Philippines Independent Film and Video Awards, the Philippine Centennial Literary Prize, and the Philippine National Book Award. He has also won the Philippines’ top literary prize, the Palanca Memorial Awards, several times for poetry, fiction, non-fiction and playwriting. In 2010, his three-act play, Resurrection, was staged off-Broadway at the Clurman Theater on 42nd Street by Diverse City Inc. A collection of stories, People Are Strange, was recently released by Black Lawrence Press. 

“This amazing festival showcases the diversity and talent of the Asian American community, which now makes up more than 1 million people in New York, or 13 percent of the population,” says Andrea Louie, executive director of the Alliance. “The festival aims to promote artists as agents of change, demonstrating the power of art and culture to unleash imagination, break down barriers, and connect communities together for the greater good.”

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